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The Media vs social media

The Media vs social media

Five journalists. Five days. Only access: Facebook and Twitter.

January 25, 2010 5:20 by

Five journalists are getting set to assess the latest ‘threats’ to the traditional media-Facebook and Twitter. The reporters, from Canadian, French, Belgian and Swiss radio stations, will be locking themselves in a French farmhouse for five days with access only to the two social networking sites.

They will then aim to test the quality of news from Facebook and Twitter and try to find out if they are genuine “threats” to the traditional media, reports AFP. The experiment begins on February 1.

“We will give them five computers with blank hard drives,” Francoise Dost of the RFP public broadcasters association, which is organizing the experiment, told the agency. “They have agreed to be linked to the outside world only through Twitter and Facebook. No web surfing is allowed,” he said.

“This experiment will enable us to take a hard look at all the myths that exist about Facebook and Twitter,” said Helene Jouan, a senior editor at France Inter, one of the stations that is sending a journalist. “Our aim is to show that there are different sources of information and to look at the legitimacy of each of these sources,” she said.

While such an experiment would certainly be interesting, Kipp is going to put on our arrogant hat and say that we can almost predict the result – social networking sites work as a great aid to disseminate information quickly, but they cannot be completely trusted, and journalists should verify information the traditional way before reporting them.

Twitter has proved to be a great news source for journalists during the recent earthquake in Haiti. It also helped to disseminate a lot of information during the riots in Iran last year, as traditional media had no access to the country. And when a plane was forced to land on the Hudson River in New York, Twitter had the story first.

But on the other hand, American actor Johnny Depp, who was tragically killed in a car crash in France on Sunday by Twitter hoaxers, had to emphatically state that he was alive and kicking. And there are several more examples of erroneous stories out there.

While social networking sites are becoming popular news avenues, it does seem a bit exaggerated to say that they pose a threat to traditional media – at least given the current state of affairs. We are not sure about the future though (picture the stereotype: cars flying, robots ruling and toilets that can diagnose your medical condition). Could that picture also include social networks – run according to a viable business model – that provide immediate, and accurate, news?

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